Ming letter from Wu-tsung to the eighth Karmapa, 1516

Ming letter from Wu-tsung to the eighth Karmapa, 1516

2001. (Film negative)

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Key Information


Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh Richardson

Date of Photo

1946, 1950


Tolung Valley Region > Tsurphu

Accession number


Image Dimensions

85 x 60 mm

The Ming letter which was written by the Chinese emperor Wu-tsung to the eighth Karmapa Mikyod dorje (Mi-bskyod rdo-rje) in 1516. Richardson was shown this letter on a visit to Tsurphu monastery. It is unrolled to display the Tibetan text and supported on two chairs.

Further Information

Photographic Process

Negative film nitrate

Date Acquired

Donated August 2001

Donated by

The executors of the estate of Hugh E. Richardson


Hugh E. Richardson


‘High Peaks, Pure Earth’, Hugh Richardson, London, Serindia Publications, 1998 [view list of illustrations]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on negative album - 'NYEMO. SAMYE. YARLUNG. RGYAL.' is written on the cover of this blue negative album in white in Richardson's hand. [KC 24/3/2006]

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Notes on Blue negative album index - No. 60. 'do' [MING LETTER].

Manual Catalogues -

Manual Catalogues - Richardson's handlist: 'Blue Album. [Nos.] 57-60. 'Letter written in 1516 by the Ming Emperor Wu-tsung to the VIII Karma-pa Black Hat Lama. See my article in JRAS 1958, and 1959.'

Research publication - Hugh E. Richardson, High Peaks, Pure Earth , 1998, London: Serindia Publications, Plate 97. "Tibetan text from the letter from Wu-tsung to the Xth Zhwa-nag-pa." [KC 10/11/2006]

Other Information - History: Richardson discusses the significance of this letter and provides a translation of it in
High Peaks, Pure Earth , London, Serindia Publications, 1998, pp. 348-9; 363-4. 'The leter consists of a silk-wrapped scroll some 5 feet broad by 2 feet high. The date is on the right, the Chinese on the left and the date in both languages, together with the imperial seal, are on the left of the Chinese text." (p.364) The letter (dated 1516) was sent to invite the eighth Zhwa-nag Karmapa Mi-bskyod rdo-rje to the court of the Chinese emperor Wu-tsung "who after a hostile start, gradually became devoted to Buddhism and very indulgent towards Tibetan lamas.' (p.348) According to the biography of the Karmapa "[it] states the invitation was declined on account of inauspicious omens foreboding the death of the emperor, which occured shortly afterwards." (p.349)

For Citation use:
The Tibet Album. "Ming letter from Wu-tsung to the eighth Karmapa, 1516" 05 Dec. 2006. The Pitt Rivers Museum. <http://tibet.prm.ox.ac.uk/photo_2001.>.

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